Our first-ever #DiasporaDinners: New Orleans event took place in late May 2017, and Nigerian chef-extraordinaire Tunde Wey cooked up a storm for our guests. We chatted to Chef Tunde about his food philosophy and the event’s theme “Resistance + Resilience”
Where are you from and what is your food philosophy?
I'm Nigerian. My (current) food philosophy is probably best summed by Fela Anikulapo Kuti "[food] cannot be for enjoyment"
What does the idea of #DiasporaDinners mean to you?
The premise of the Diaspora Dinner (and not the actual dinners themselves since I haven't been to one) resonates with me. I am rarely in a position where I can talk about my African identity in a critical way-- a way that recognizes the expansiveness of it as part of a continental idea, while still acknowledging the specificity of my particular ethnic, cultural and social history. And this dinner provides that space.
How does that idea show itself in your food and the menu you are producing for the upcoming dinner?
My meditation on my African identity creates in me a sense of freedom. The freedom to use my food to say what I feel is important. A freedom engendered by my perception of my identity, not as limited concept but as infinite, interpretable in myriad ways.
The theme of the dinner is “Resistance + Resilience”. How do those words apply to your life? The life of diasporans?
The theme of the dinner, Resistance + Resilience, is applicable to me, and maybe other diasporans, because it speaks to heritage and history-- the succession of time. I am here because the people before me (my parents), and around me (my siblings, and friends) continually support my existence and expression. They support it through praise and criticism, through teaching- as well as learning from me. Their supports makes me resilient, and my resilience provides the strength to resist. Resist what? My own doubt, whether it is manifested internally or from without.
Thanks Tunde! Read more about his “Blackness in America” Dinner Series here.